Top 10 unmissable family attractions in London
Buckingham Palace is one of London's must-see family attractions
London is packed with brilliant attractions, which means there is always something exciting for families to do. Many of these attractions are also free to visit, which is yet another reason why the capital is the perfect place for a memorable break. Of course, with so many attractions to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to go. However, there are some standout attractions for families, many of which are particular must-visit if your kids are under 12. For a little inspiration, read about our ten favourites below.
1. Science Museum
Located in South Kensington, the Science Museum is one of the best attractions in the capital. Its famous for being fantastic fun for kids, but with its massive selection of interesting and interactive exhibits, adults will enjoy it just as much. Here, you can learn about a broad range of topics, including physics, chemistry and astronomy, all in the museum's characteristically fun way. Spanning seven floors, this establishment is the ultimate place to see science come alive! How to get there: Take the number 70 bus from directly outside the Royal Garden Hotel, or take the Circle Line from High Street Kensington to South Kensington.
2. Natural History Museum
Also in South Kensington, the Natural History Museum is another firm favourite among families. Here, you and the children can step into the past to when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, encountering everything from skeletons to an animatronic T-Rex, visit a wildlife garden and learn all about our planet. There are also lots of fun ways for kids to get more involved, such as the Explorer Backpacks provided free for the under-7s. How to get there: Take the number 70 bus from directly outside the Royal Garden Hotel, or take the Circle Line from High Street Kensington to South Kensington.
3. Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace
Every child should visit Buckingham Palace, and by far the best time to do so is during the Changing the Guard. Between April and the end of July, this colourful spectacle usually takes place daily at 11.30, and on alternate days for the rest of the year. The weather's also a factor, though, and the timings can change, so it's always best to check the schedule before going. How to get there: From High Street Kensington, take the Circle Line to Victoria, or take the number 52 bus from Kensington Palace.
4. Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament are another must-visit for kids, whether you just fancy showing them these grand buildings from the outside or taking an official tour. And at just a four-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, they are easy to visit on the same outing. If you do want to go inside, you can pick between audio and guided tours to see the Queen's Robing Room, Royal Gallery, Lords Chamber and more. Tours like this are better suited to older children How to get there: From High Street Kensington, take the Circle Line to Victoria, or take the number 52 bus from Kensington Palace.
5. London Zoo
Zoos are always a hit with kids, and London Zoo is the ultimate one to take them too. This giant attraction is Regent's Park is home to everything from lions and tigers to monkeys and creepy crawlies. There's also a small petting zoo with rabbits, goats and other soft and fluffy creatures that little ones would love to meet. As well as simply admiring the animals in their enclosures, you can hear talks, watch feeding times and much more. How to get there: From High Street Kensington, take the District or Circle Line to Paddington, then change onto the Bakerloo Line to reach Regent's Park. From here, the zoo is a 20-minute walk through the park. Alternatively, take the number 27 bus.
6. London Eye
Over the past decade or so, the London Eye has become one of the capital's top attractions and, being essentially a giant ferris wheel, it has a massive appeal among kids. You can ride the Eye during the day or at night (each offers its own appeal, and you can actually buy day and night combination tickets now to get the best of both worlds), and a standard ticket will grant you access to the attraction's 4D cinema experience too. Rides last 30 minutes and give you the chance to see grand attractions on the capital's skyline, including Westminster and St Paul's Cathedral. Buying your tickets online will save you money, and it is worth remembering that combination tickets with other attractions, such as the London Dungeon, are also available. How to get there: From High Street Kensington, take the Circle Line to Westminster, then board the Jubilee Line to Waterloo.
7. London Dungeon
The London Dungeon has long been a real favourite among families, and it's not hard to see why. This immersive, interactive storytelling experience combines vivid sets, live actors, rides and much more to recreate London's gory history. It can be a little scary at times, but it's oodles of fun too! How to get there: From High Street Kensington, take the Circle Line to Westminster, then board the Jubilee Line to Waterloo.
8. V&A Museum of Childhood
This absolutely lovely museum is dedicated to all things related to childhood, making it a natural place for families to visit. Toys, games, dolls' houses and much more contribute to its amazing collection, which is a joy for people of all ages to explore. What's more, there are plenty of interactive exhibits for curious kids to get their teeth stuck into.
How to get there: From High Street Kensington, take the District or Circle Line to Notting Hill Gate, then the Central Line to Bethnal Green.
One of the most famous toy shops on the planet, Hamleys is an unmissable place on your visit to London. Spanning seven floors, this store sells games, gadgets, preschool toys, dolls, craft materials and soft toys galore. In fact, virtually every kind of children's treat (including sweets!) can be found here. Just remember that it's unlikely you'll leave without a few souvenirs! How to get there: Take the District or Circle Line from High Street Kensington to Paddington, then change onto the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus.
10. Royal Parks
London is also home to some absolutely stunning green spaces, the best of which are the Royal Parks. These include Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, St James's Park and Regent's Park, and they all include a tempting mix of pretty scenery and wildlife, ample space for picnics family games and, often, playgrounds. They are the perfect free places to visit on sunny days. How to get there: This of course depends on which park you'd like to visit - the Royal Parks website is the place to go for comprehensive travel information.
Image credit: istock mikeinlondon